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Frequently Asked Questions



What is your funding package?


We have a generous number of full and half-time assistantships that provide tuition waivers and a small stipend to incoming graduate students.

Do you offer a terminal M.A.?


In what fields do you offer a Ph.D.? 

Major fields include Great Plains History, Rural History, North American History, and Western European History.  Minor fields include Public History, World History, Asian History, and Latin American History. Consult the Graduate Manual for more information.

Do you have a special policy for international students?

International students are considered in the same pool as US students, and they have the same access to departmental funding.  The NDSU Graduate School has additional opportunities for international student funding that can be explored through their website.

What are the language requirements?

A minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 100 (Internet-based); or a minimum IELTS score of 7 for students whom English is not their primary language.

Do I need to be a History major in college?

No, but your undergraduate program should demonstrate a strong interest and ability in history and the humanities.

Where do I get an application?

You can complete the online application through NDSU’s Graduate School website, which can be found at

What should I put in my personal statement?

Your personal statement should explain your interests and trajectory as a historian. Among other things, you might discuss your special interests, what has inspired your interest in history, and your training in history or related fields. You should explain why you want a graduate degree in history and make suggestions about faculty with whom you would hope to work and why.  If there have been any significant setbacks in your academic record that you think we should be aware of, please explain these in your personal statement as well.

I already have an MA - do I get credit for this?

If you already have an MA in History, you may apply directly for admission into the PhD program.

Do I need an MA to apply?


I have applied before, do I need to complete the entire application again?

No. If you applied within the last five years, your application should still be on record. Some portions may be reused (for example, transcripts), but it is usually a good idea to send a new personal statement and to ask your recommenders to update their letters. GRE scores more than five years old are generally not acceptable.

Can I come to visit the campus?

You are welcome to visit the NDSU campus at any time during the academic term. Please be sure to make appointments, in advance, through the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Dr. Tracy Barrett:

How high do my GRE scores and GPA need to be for admission?

A GPA of 3.0 or above is required for admission into the graduate program.  Minimum GRE scores of 3.5 for PhD students and 3.0 for MA students are also required.

Who makes the decision about my application?

The Graduate Committee, along with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, makes all final decisions in consultation with faculty members from the specific areas in which a prospective student might work.

What should I send for a writing sample?

Please send your most polished piece of historical writing, ideally a research paper (or part of a research paper) based on analysis of primary sources. Students applying in European, Latin American, or Asian history are encouraged to show evidence of their ability to use non-English sources.  All written work should be in English.

What are the teaching requirements?

Teaching assistantships in the department are the main vehicle for graduate funding and are awarded on a competitive basis.  At most, TAs will be asked to work 20 hours per week on the class(es) to which they are assigned.  Advanced students may also have opportunities to teach their own classes (as “teacher of record”) during the summer or academic year.

Do you provide students with funding to pursue research and attend conferences?

Yes. There is funding available from the department, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and the University to help students fund travel for brief research trips and to present at conferences in their field.

Who should I ask for letters of recommendation?

We usually expect letters from professors who have taught you in the past, either in undergraduate or graduate work. They should comment on your abilities as a student. Where applicable, they should also comment on your work as a historian, or your abilities in languages. Please send no more than four letters. deadline.

Do you admit students in the spring semester?

Yes.  The History graduate program offers rolling admissions although consideration for departmental funding is dependent upon the timeliness of your application.

How long does it take to complete a PhD in History at NDSU?

Students normally complete our program in six years. We encourage all students to finish in five or six years.

What is the placement record for your students?

Please see the placement records listed on our department website.

I have been working in another profession (or training for another profession), and I am only now turning to history. Should I apply to your program?

Absolutely. Some, but not all, of our students enter the program directly from a BA or MA program. A number of students, seeking a second degree or looking for a change of career, enter the program after completing law school or divinity school while others come from the working world (teachers, lawyers, librarians, etc.). The most important thing is that you make clear in your application why you want to pursue a degree in history now. 

Does NDSU provide housing for graduate students?

Yes. The University has housing available near the campus for both single and married graduate students. Many graduate students take advantage of University housing, while others rent houses or apartments in Fargo. Rental rates and house prices are very reasonable in our area.

Does the History Department offer a degree via distance learning?

Yes and no.  While some distance and “bookend” courses are available, it would be very difficult to complete a graduate degree without ever attending classes on campus. All graduate students must attend classes during their period of course work (usually two to three years). Once a student has completed course work, they may pursue their degree while living elsewhere.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2013 3:26:59 PM
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